Why Praise?


Psalm 148
1Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
2Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
3Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
4Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
5Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.
6And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
10Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
11Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
12Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
13Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!

This psalm is 14 verses of telling God why He is great and praiseworthy. Does God need to hear those words? No. But we need to speak them. We need to give the time to thoughts of the beauty and blessings that surround us, because God is responsible for all of it.

Marva Dawn, theologian and author, has captured the reasons we give time and mental energy to detailing God’s greatness.

Praise is not merely something uplifting or upbeat. beat. Rather, it is the naming of attributes, character, and/or actions of the one being praised. To praise God does not mean only to say, "I praise you; I love you; I adore you," but to say why, for what reasons. The psalms frequently begin with a call to praise or a declaration of praise, but they don't stop there. They continue to cite the specific interventions of God that have inspired the praise; they declare how God has related to his people and therefore how he can be perceived in the world. Doxology thus is praise that names the Glory and helps those who hear to see it. If I notice a glorious sunset, I won't merely sit there and mumble, "Nice sunset." A sunset that is magnificent pulls a response out of our depths - and prods us toward others to share it. Similarly, when we really see who God is and witness his love, mercy, faithfulness, and justice tice in action, we are impelled into praise. Praise is pulled out of us in a way we can hardly resist; we will have to exclaim about our God.
Marva J. Dawn. ©2000 The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call (p.32). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI.

If our praise is to be authentic, I believe we need to be focused. How often have we spoken the liturgy or sung the hymns without much thought? Perhaps God deserves our attention when we praise Him, not just when we want something. Ms. Dawn is spot-on in her challenge to give our energies over to our praise for the Living God. Now we just have to take up the challenge.

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